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Noisy neighbours: How housebuilders can block the noise from above

by BDigital_Admin
How can house-builders block the noise from above?

Excessive noise from noisy neighbours can impact on residents’ concentration and mental wellbeing. Ben Hancock, managing director at Oscar Acoustics, explores how soundproof ceiling systems can combat the problem

The issue of noisy neighbours is one we’re all familiar with – where sound from above or through our walls feels deafeningly loud.

Excessive noise from above is a major problem for people living in flats and apartments. It can become unbearable for occupants, impacting their concentration and mental wellbeing.

Over time, it can even lead to physical health issues such as hypertension, heart disease, and strokes if unwanted rackets continuously go unchecked.

So how can housebuilders and developers put a stop to this endemic problem in both new builds and existing dwellings? The answer lies in quality soundproofing.

Why does it happen?

The problem with many of today’s residential buildings is that they lack the necessary sound insulation. Densification of our towns and cities means that of many of us live in close proximity, yet homes haven’t been designed to mirror this reality.

Essentially, the thumping footsteps we hear from the rooms above are due to sound passing through ceilings and floors as vibrations, resulting in excessive sound transfer.

Without a barrier to block these vibrations, it’s allowed to travel and produce in the noise we hear through our ceilings or walls.

This is an issue faced by local authorities across the country, which costs them thousands of pounds in complaints handling each year. In fact, UK councils receive more than 420,000 complaints about noise each year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these have skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Turning down the volume

When noise from above is the problem, the easiest way to fix it is with an isolated, soundproof ceiling. By creating a ‘floating ceiling’, you will effectively break the path of the sound vibrations that cause the transfer of unwanted noise between floors. 

One way of doing this is through the use of mounted soundproof ceiling system, which tackles the problem of noise transfer between floors and ceilings. The mounts, which can be applied to uneven joists to allow for a flat ceiling finish with minimum ceiling height loss, are a good fit for those working with flats or shared accommodation, as all work is carried out from the room below with no work required to the floor above.

“Noise pollution needs to be placed higher up the wellbeing agenda”

With fire-safety and compliance now in the spotlight in the UK, though, housebuilders need to be confident that acoustic hangers can achieve an approved BRE fire rating of over 90-minutes where required and exceed British building regulations ‘Approved Document E’, which deals with airborne and impact sound.

Complete soundproofing with cavity fill insulation

Properly insulating and air sealing your home is one of the quickest and most cost-effective steps you can take to significantly reduce your heating bills and unwanted noise transfer. Cavity fill insulation can do wonders when it comes to reducing heat and sound transfer by creating ‘dead air’ spaces between and within its fibres.

Typically, this can be sprayed into a cavity before the void is closed, or blown through carefully drilled holes on existing structures. It seals any gaps and cracks in the wallboard, around electrical outlets, plumbing, and other irregularities so there are no compressed areas or voids that allow sound leaks or air infiltration.

For those looking to reduce their environmental impact, keep an eye out for recycled thermal sound insulation products that are made from natural, paper-based fibres. And always check that the product you’re choosing is fire-rated and adheres to industry standards.

Setting the standard

It’s no surprise that there remains some ambiguity as to why acoustic health hasn’t been given the attention it deserves.

The Building Regulations (2010) Approved Document E – ‘Resistance to the passage of sound’ – stipulates that walls and floors should reduce transmission to conjoining rooms. However, it lacks any instruction on soundproofing products that can actively tackle this issue.

What’s more, the recent Building Better, Building Beautiful report commissioned by the UK government at the start of 2021, which focuses on increasing the quality of new homes and buildings, has no mention or guidelines on effective soundproofing methods. A clear oversight that suggests noise pollution needs to be placed higher up the wellbeing agenda.

Despite this lack of guidance, housebuilders and developers understand that the buck stops with them when it comes to ensuring our homes are fit for purpose. With that in mind, they must look to prioritise the welfare of those living in both existing and new builds and understand the importance of quality soundproofing when it comes to mental and physical health.

Image: Ben Hancock, managing director at Oscar Acoustics

Read next: Transforming Construction: Building a sector fit for the future

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